Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Where Are They Now? Home Improvement, Saved by the Bell, & Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

By Allison Heard for


Home Improvement

Home Improvement was a sitcom staple of 90s television, airing from 1991-1999, that skyrocketed Tim Allen’s career out of relative obscurity. Tim, who played handyman dad Tim Taylor went on to be a common name in the industry playing Buzz Lightyear in the Toy Story movies, Santa Claus in The Santa Clause, and most recently, starred alongside John Travolta in Wild Hogs. If you feel like you need a Tim Allen fix, he is currently playing Mike Baxter on Last Man Standing and has a comedy, Geezers!, slated for release in 2012.

Compared to Allen’s post-sitcom success, the kids of Home Improvement have a much smaller rap sheet. Hunky middle brother Randy Taylor, played by Jonathan Taylor Thomas, is most noted for his role as Simba in 1994’s Lion King, but after Home Improvement wrapped, he could only be seen in small roles. He voiced character Tyler Tucker in The Wild Thornberrys and had a three-show arch in 8 Simple Rules. He recently did an interview and photo shoot for Entertainment Weekly and said he is currently traveling and going to school. It seems like his days of gracing the cover of Teen Bop week after week are over for JTT, for now at least.

Zachery Ty Bryan, older brother to Randy with the laidback attitude and killer blonde mullet, has produced little since the show. His most noted roles were as Brian Nolan in Code Breakers, a made for TV movie, and as Clay in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Zachery got married in 2007, and since then has only made a splash in 2008 when he was tased by hotel security after trying to reenter his hotel room in San Diego. Apparently, hotel security thought he was a vagrant trying to enter one of their hotel rooms.

The youngest brother and resident show weirdo was played by Taran Noah Smith, and honestly, not much has changed since. His work in the film industry has been limited, but he did get married to a much older woman, sued his parents for $1.5 million dollars, and got a divorce. His million dollar mansion is now in foreclosure and judging from the amount of internet commentary about how weird Taran has turned out, it looks like he has no hope of returning to Hollywood.

If Home Improvement makes you miss your childhood or gives you feelings of sweet nostalgia, check out their recent reunion photo from Entertainment Weekly. (Sadly, beloved neighbor and fountain of wisdom Wilson passed away in 2003 and is not in the reunion photo.)

Home Improvement Highlight Reel: Taran’s weird and broke, Zachery has a wife and looks like a bum (without a mullet at least), JTT is still hunky, and Tim is Buzz Lightyear, Santa Clause, and still relatively awesome (on an older man scale of awesomeness). Oh, and Al (Richard Karn) hosted Family Feud and Jill (Patricia Richardson) guest starred on The West Wing for two seasons.

Saved by the Bell

While Saved by the Bell originally aired in August 1989, the bulk of the shows ran in the early 90s and it became a starting block for more modern sitcoms revolved around teen drama. Surprisingly, many of the stars of this show have gone on to make a name for themselves, even if it is not always a good one (and you know I’m talking about Screech a.k.a. Dustin Diamond).

Zack Morris, played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar, the shows heartthrob-worthy blonde, moved on from Saved by the Bell in 2001 when he played Detective John Clark in NYPD Blue. His days as a cop came to an end in 2005, but he continued to act in shows like Commander in Chief, Raising the Bar, and Franklin & Bash, a TNT drama where Mark-Paul currently stars as an unconventional lawyer in a sea of straight laced attorneys. Mark-Paul has two children, Michael and Ava, and is engaged to advertising executive Catriona McGinn after his 2010 divorce.

Mario Lopez, who played jock A.C. Slater, flew under the radar after SBTB until his breakout role as Dr. Mike Hamoui in the FX drama Nip/Tuck. Since then he has maintained a constant presence in the entertainment industry. He danced on the third season of Dancing With The Stars, hosted MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew, and is a current correspondent for Extra!. His bangin’ 6 pack probably doesn’t hurt his star appeal either.

Kelly, Jessie, and Lisa, the trio of girls from Saved by the Bell, have all continued to be a part of the Hollywood industry alongside their male counterparts. Jessie, played by Elizabeth Berkley, shed her girl-next-door image with Showgirls in 1995, which, of course, was met with bad reviews and controversy. Her career took a hit after the film’s release and she began to take smaller roles. Now, she is developing a series with MTV that is based off her website “Ask Elizabeth,” a self-help program for teenage girls.

Tiffani Thiessen, who played head cheerleader Kelly, has been in multiple shows, such as 90210, since her younger days and is currently playing a wedding planner in White Collar. In 2010, she traded her pompoms for a burp rag when daughter Harper was born.

Lark Voorhies, (Lisa), has continued her acting career while also stepping into the music scene. She has released a few singles and starred in music videos for artists like Boyz II Men and Kenny Lattimore. She has now been forever memorialized in Asher Roth’s 2009 single “Lark on My Go-Kart”.

Saved By The Bell Highlight Reel: Mark-Paul and Mario still have their heartthrob good looks, Elizabeth is helping out teen girls with the help of MTV, Tiffani and Lark are both mothers, and if you want more information about Screech’s life after Saved By The Bell check out this link.


The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

“Now this is the story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down, and I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there, I’ll tell you how I became the prince of a town called Bel-Air.”

Those opening lines of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air opened the world, or at least the American viewing audience, to the Banks, a ritzy family who gets an interesting new member when nephew and cousin William Smith (played by Will Smith) moves in. Since his time as the fresh prince, Will Smith has undeniably moved on to bigger things. His music career has prospered, with his chart-toppers like “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” and “Switch,” and his films like Bad Boys, I Am Legend, and Men in Black, have cemented Smith’s reputation as a Hollywood All-Star. Will’s wife Jada Pinkett, son Jaden, and daughter Willow have also created names for themselves alongside his sometimes overshadowing Hollywood persona. Men in Black III is set to release in 2012.

Alfonso Ribeiro played Will’s cooky cousin Carlton, most remembered by his wonderful dance moves. Alfonso has done little since the show wrapped in 1996, but landed the position of host on GSN’s Catch 21. Even with his lack of a proper Hollywood resume, Alfonso’s dance skills will always be legendary.

Prissy older cousin Hilary called her acting career quits after her 6-year run on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Karyn Parsons did attend film school in New York, but while there she met her future husband. They had two children together and are still living in New York.

The youngest member of the Banks clan grew up in front of the shows audience and Tatyana Ali acted her way through Ashley’s most awkward years. Tatyana graduated from Harvard in 2002 with a degree in Afro-American History and Government. While going to school she had roles in multiple movies and TV shows. National Lampoon Presents Dorm Daze and Nora’s Hair Salon are among her most recognizable roles. She also played Roxanne in The Young and the Restless from the 2007-2011. Ali ventured in to music as well, but it seems that Willow Smith (Will Smith’s pre-teen daughter) has made a bigger splash in the music industry just by whipping her hair back and forth. Either way, Tatyana seems to have done well for herself and has come a long way since her pre-pubescent days on Fresh Prince.

Sadly, there has yet to be a reunion for this show, but it has been rumored to be in the works.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Highlight Reel: Will Smith is Will Smith and needs no explanation, Karyn is a New York mom and wife, Alfonso is a game show host but will never be forgotten for his amazing dance skills, and Tatyana is still starring in movies and TV shows after graduation from Harvard.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Where Are They Now? Clarissa Explains it All, All That, & Boy Meets World

by Kenny Pickett for

Clarissa Explains It All

We all know the star of Clarissa Explains It All, Melissa Joan Hart, is currently starring in her hit sitcom Melissa & Joey alongside fellow 90s television star Joey Lawrence, but what has become of the rest of the Darling family?

Jason Zimbler played Clarissa’s annoying little brother Ferguson Darling. After Clarissa ended, Jason turned to live theater and eventually co-founded The Re-Theatre Instrument, a theatre company that re-imagines classic plays. Zimbler also appeared in the music video “All My Friends” by the XYZ Affair which features quite a few former Nickelodeon stars.

Sean O’Neal was Clarissa’s ladder wielding (just) friend, Sam. Since Clarissa O’Neal has been seen in the buddy cop film Cop and a Half. Most of his acting recently has been in the musical theatre world, however. O’Neal has also been pursuing a music career as seen on his strange website.

Elizabeth Hess played Clarissa’s mother, Janet. Hess seems to be the most prolific actor to graduate from Clarissa. She has done a lot of theatre from regional productions to Broadway. She has also been teaching acting in a lot of different places. Judging from the pictures of her on the internet, she is really happy.

Joe O’Connor played Clarissa’s dad, Marshall. Joe has really stuck to television acting having appeared on Boston Public, Charmed, Reno 911!, Weeds, and Castle. Most notably, however, O’Connor has a recurring role on Mad Men as Pete Campbell’s father-in-law.

All That

All That was Nickelodeon’s sketch show that was for kids, by kids. The show has produced stars like Kenan Thompson, Amanda Bynes, and Nick Cannon. Not every cast member has a spot on Saturday Night Live or a wife named Mariah Carey, though.

Kel Mitchell was Kenan Thompson’s partner in crime. After All That, the two starred on their own Nickelodeon show Kenan & Kel. Kel then landed a role in the now cult favorite Mystery Men, went on to host the dance show Dance 360, perform regularly on G4’s Attack of the Show, and provides voices for various children’s programming. Kel’s main project is a movie called Chicago Pulaski Jones, a dance-comedy-action film with Cedric the Entertainer and Tommy Davidson.

Lori Beth Denberg provided vital information for your everyday life on All That. She even got the chance to continue her Nickelodeon fame on the panel show Figure It Out. She quickly graduated from Nick to the WB and landed a recurring role on The Steve Harvey Show. Then… not much. The last thing she did was crush Justin Long as the fat cheerleader in Dodgeball, which came out in 2004.

Josh Server was on All That from 1994-2000. That’s a pretty long time. After his stint on all that he was in a few more Nickelodeon projects like The Amanda Show, 100 Deeds for Eddie McDowd, and Drake & Josh. According to his Twitter, Josh is currently working in real estate and spending a lot of time on OKCupid.

Boy Meets World

The “boy” of Boy Meets World, Ben Savage had some big shoes to fill after his brother Fred stole America’s hearts in The Wonder Years. After 7 years of playing Cory Matthews on Boy Meets World, Savage went on to not really do much at all. He was in a few made-for-tv movies and most recently appeared on Chuck and Without a Trace. Savage also starred in a short called Closing Time which screened at the HollyShorts Film Festival.

Will Friedle played Cory’s dimwitted older brother Eric on the show. Friedle has kept pretty busy in the last 11 years that Boy Meets World has been off the air, lending his voice to popular cartoons like Batman Beyond, Teen Titans, Static Shock, and the newly rebooted Thundercats cartoon. Of course, I’ll always remember him for his role opposite Jennifer Love Hewitt in the 1997 Trojan War, a movie in which he goes on an adventure to try and buy condoms.

Rider Strong played Cory’s best friend from the wrong side of the tracks, Shawn. After Boy Meets World, Strong starred in the cult horror/comedy Cabin Fever directed by Eli Roth. Strong has also lent his voice to several of the same super hero shows as his old pal Will Friedle. He has also made television appearances on Castle and Bones.

Danielle Fishel played Topanga Lawrence, the love of Cory’s life. After Boy Meets World, she was mainly known for being the spokesperson for the NutriSystem diet. That is until she gained all of her weight back that she lost through the program. After that, Fishel hosted The Dish on the Style Network, which was a lot like The Soup except even less people watched it. Here’s something I just found out while researching his that doesn’t really apply to the topic, but should be noted: Danielle Fishel went to her high school prom with Lance Bass who came out in 2006.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Guest Post: The X-Files

In honor of Halloween, I present to you a post about something that scared me endlessly in my youth. The show scared me so much, in fact, that I could never bring myself to watch about it and hence could never do it justice writing about it. Luckily fellow blogger and X Files fan Kelly stepped up to the plate to bring you this comprehensive post complete with fun facts and trivia.

About guest blogger Kelly, in her own words: Being born in ‘83, I’m on the older end of the 90’s kid spectrum, but that just means I remember it better! I spent my high school years completely obsessed with Mulder and Scully and, as the proud owner of three separate X Files related tattoos, I still am. I keep a blog of my various misadventures
here, and you can find a crappie website I made in college here.

The X Files

Who of us raised in the 90’s can recall a prime time drama scarier or grosser than The X Files? In a pre-CSI landscape, it was surely in a class of its own. The story of two FBI agents, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, working the strange cases relegated to the basement and known as “X Files,” each for their own reasons and struggling against their own demons.

Without the dark example of The X Files, we may never have been able to witness such wonderful shows as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Reaper, Bones, or even the stomach turning sequences of CSI, on network TV. Plus, nothing else in pop culture has ever done so much for the word “debunk.”

As the defining aspect of my high school experience, I could write pages upon pages dedicated to the mythology and motifs of The X Files; where they came from, what they meant for society, and what they meant to me personally. (And trust me, I have!) However, for today’s purposes, I’ll break down a small sampling of elements and themes that exemplify the huge appeal of the show and the special brand of nostalgia Children of the 90’s is known for. Here we go!

Paranoia, Conspiracies, and all things “Out There”

The 90’s were a prime time for pondering the story behind the story. In a decade that featured Oliver Stone’s conspiracy flick “JFK,” the birth of VH1’s “Behind the Music,”and numerous political scandals, the public was constantly looking for ways to find out what we weren’t being told.

The X Files epitomized this. Mulder’s obsession with the fate of his sister, missing since she was 8 and he was 12, her abduction recalled only through spotty memories recovered under hypnosis, fueled his passion to solve each case that came to him. Young Agent Scully was assigned to accompany him, with direct orders to disprove and debunk his findings. Together, they introduced us to theories about far reaching government conspiracies, investigated urban legends, human monsters, and UFO sightings, and taught us that the skin tone of a Reticulan is actually grey, not green. You could not mention anything vaguely spooky or creepy in the 90’s without someone chiming in with the familiar first notes of The X Files opening theme.

Fabulous, Cutting-Edge Technology of the 90’s

A hallmark of the series were the two agent’s ever present cell phones. A wonderful tool to keep the agents connected while in separate places, the models featured in early episodes are now comically enormous. Note the antenna on Scully’s cell piece above. Also, there’s no touch screen when she turns that bad boy over!

Another technological phenomenon central to The X Files was the internet. Not only did the plot lines of several episodes feature the internet, computers, or video games, fans of The X Files are widely recognized as some of the first to embrace the medium as an outlet for fandom. “X Philes,” as they dubbed themselves, took to chat rooms and online forums in record breaking numbers to discuss their favorite show and post original pieces of fanfic.

Additionally, The X Files was featured in a first person, CD-ROM game for MAC and PC. In the game, you were a new agent saddled not only with the task of finding the missing Mulder and Scully, but changing the CD as you progressed.

Catch Phrases

What would a 90’s show be without ubiquitous catch-phrases? The X Files certainly had it’s share of mostly serious expressions. I defy you to hear any of the below without immediately hearing the theme music!

I Want to Believe
The Truth is Out There
Trust No One
Deny Everything

Of course, the most fun catch-phrases are the unintentional. I present to you “Mulder, it’s me.”

Guest Stars and Crossovers

Casting nine seasons worth of an hour long drama with relatively few recurring characters is sure to result in quite a roster. The X Files definitely had it’s share of recognizable guest stars, (Ed Asner, Lily Tomlin, Tony Shaloub, Peter Boyle, Luke Wilson, Bryan Cranston, and even Tom Selleck, to name a few) but was probably more notable for the bit parts played by relatively unknown actors. It’s a list that could go on for pages, but here are few of the highlights. Look up their episodes to catch a glimpse of these famous faces early in their careers!

Seth Green - As a stoner with a scooter in the second episode of the series. And, no, I don’t know why Mulder is standing like that.

Ryan Reynolds - As a high school hunk murdered by a pair of girls with telekinetic powers in the episode “Syzygy”

Michael Buble - Yes, Michael Buble. As a submarine sailor with no speaking lines in “Apocrypha” and “Piper Maru.”

Lucy Liu - As the daughter of a Chinese immigrant caught in a black market lottery for human organs in “Hell Money.”

Jack Black and Giovanni Ribisi - As a teen with the ability to control electricity (Ribisi) and his friend (Black) who mysteriously winds up electrocuted in “D.P.O.”

Willie Garson - The erstwhile Stanford Blatch was actually in two episodes of The X Files as two different characters, first in season 3’s “The Walk” and then in season 7’s “The Goldberg Variation.”

Shia LaBeouf - Along with Willie Garson in “The Goldberg Variation.”

The X Files also participated in the grand TV tradition of crossover appearances. Detective Munch from Homicide: Life on the Street and Law & Order:SVU stopped by to arrest Mulder and his pals, the Lone Gunmen, in a flashback episode. Frank Black of Millennium came over to assist Mulder and Scully with a time sensitive New Year’s Eve case. And Mulder and Scully even made a detour through Springfield to help solve the mystery of an “alien” appearing in the woods on the edge of town. (Spoiler, it was Mr. Burns suffering the side effects of a radical anti-aging treatment performed by Dr. Nick!)

Like I said, these are just a few of the things that made The X Files memorable and totally 90’s. Until next time, remember, the truth is out there!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Guest Post: Adolescent Ingenues of the 90s

About guest poster Kari, in her own words: I’m a 90s kid hailing from the suburban South and living in New York City. I frequently prefer kid’s movies, often watch Saturday morning cartoons, always enjoy nostalgia, and determinedly refuse to grow up for good. You can visit me on Tumblr, and I also write a book blog.

There was just something about certain actresses of 90s movies; they seemed to pop up in everything (kinda like the klepto kid from Can’t Hardly Wait, who was also the pube pizza kid from She’s All That, and also in American Pie). These ladies were the ones I wanted to be—maybe because they rocked awesome kicks, hats, and had great hair, but most likely because they were individuals. They were a little bit quirky but entirely confident with themselves.

You’ll be pleased to know that most of our adolescent ingenues are still in the acting world, though most of them have gone more of the indie flick route (just further evidence that these 90s ingenues were destined for great things beyond the dreaded child actor stigma). Your individualism has paid off—you’re no longer just “former child stars”!

Anna Chlumsky

Oh my god, what I would’ve done to be Vada Sultenfuss in My Girl 2. (For some reason, always liked that one better than the first. Inexplicable.) I can’t even count how many cheap mood rings I bought after those two movies and how much of an internal struggle I had about flowery 1970s hats (I was a huge tomboy, yet she just looked so damn cool...). Beyond the My Girl flicks, Anna also starred in Trading Mom and Gold Diggers: The Secret of Bear Mountain with fellow ingenue Christina Ricci (two movies my mom rented for me on sick days). Anna took almost a decade off from acting after 1998 to attend college (International Studies), get married, and apparently be a woman of all trades (food critic, restaurant guide, editorial assistant). She’s back to acting, though, with several recent indie movies and lots of TV roles.

Thora Birch

Never have I wanted anything as badly as I wanted a pet monkey, thanks to the movie Monkey Trouble. (I also desperately wanted a copy of that movie, and, it was incredibly hard to find. I never got it.) And lest we forget Thora’s best and most memorable role as Dani in Hocus Pocus. (This assertion is not up for debate.) Thora’s early acting also included Now & Then and Alaska. In 1999, she made a swift move to adult roles with American Beauty, and she’s steadily done indie flicks since (most notably Ghost World).

Gaby Hoffmann

I never really knew Gaby Hoffmann until Now & Then (where she and Demi Moore were most perfectly cast), but since then, I’ve seen her pop up in a ton of stuff made prior. Who knew that wasn’t her break-out role? (Me.) She started her career with Field of Dreams, Uncle Buck, and Sleepless in Seattle, and starred in All I Wanna Do (total underrated late 90s teen flick starring lots of the up-and-coming famous females of the late 90s/early 00s—Kristen Dunst, Rachel Leigh Cook, Monica Keena, Heather Matarazzo...) before joining fellow ingenue Christina Ricci in 1999’s 200 Cigarettes (again, end of child roles). Lately, she’s done some guest-starring TV roles and has several new indie movies under her belt.

Christina Ricci

Christina was the “It girl” of the early to mid-90s, with a breakout role in Mermaids to her pre-teen roles in flicks like Addams Family and its sequel, Casper, Gold Diggers: The Secret of Bear Mountain, Now & Then, and the 1997 version of That Darn Cat. Just one year later, in 1998, Christina officially ended her career as “child actor” with The Opposite of Sex—a poignant moment I remember in the video store when I saw her sporting blonde hair and cleavage, and thinking, “That’s it—my childhood is dead.” Christina’s had arguably the most well-known career of our ingenues throughout the past twenty years, leading most recently to ABC’s new series Pan Am.


Tina Majorino

Who could forget the adorable girl from Andre and Corrina, Corrina (which were released, in my mind, at exactly the same time)? Tina’s childhood career wasn’t quite as notorious as the previous four ladies, but she was a familiar face. You probably remember her now from Napoleon Dynamite; I bet every 90s kid’s reaction to that movie was: “She looks familiar...” Tina has done lots of TV acting since Napoleon, most famously on Veronica Mars and Big Love.

Anna Paquin

I give Anna Paquin an honorable mention for this reason: I always thought she was one of these ingenues that appeared in everything mid-90s, but when I recently checked her creds, I, she wasn’t in as much as I thought. Yet, I DO remember her and associate her with these 90s childhood flicks, so that must mean something. While her official breakout role was in 1993’s Piano, her breakout role to OUR generation was in 1996’s Fly Away Home. The next really memorable role of hers was as Freddie Prinze Jr’s goth-chic sister in She’s All That, which led her to more teen/adult roles in Almost Famous, the X-Men flicks, The Squid and the Whale, and...her current claim to fame...HBO’s True Blood.

As you can see, no troubled former childhood stars from this group of girls. Further evidence that 90s kids are the best kids.

Digg This!